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Research Archive

Welcome to our Chinese medicine and acupuncture research news pages. We add to the content of these pages continuously as more research news comes in. Browse through the complete archive below or use the category links on the right.

Please note that the most twenty recent research archive items are free to view but access to the thousands of items in the archive require a journal subscription.

A small case control study carried out in Canada has found evidence that electrodermal activity at acupuncture points (APs) differs between patients with current pain and pain-free controls.

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A review by two authors from the USA discusses the ‘fascia acupuncture hypothesis’, which suggests that fascial planes are the basis of the acupuncture channels. The article considers the concept of qi in light of recent studies

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Authors from the USA have carried out a systematic review showing that the protocols for blinding in acupuncture studies are generally effective, and that patients cannot determine if they have received verum acupuncture or a different procedure.

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Acupuncture that elicits the sensation of deqi can improve facial muscle recovery, disability and quality of life for patients with Bell’s palsy. In a randomised controlled trial, Chinese researchers compared the efficacy of weak versus stro

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Relief of pain is rewarding, according to a researchers from the USA. They demonstrated that treatments that relieve the unpleasant feeling of pain also activate reward circuits in the brain and thus reinforce behaviors that result in relief of pain.

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Further evidence for biochemical synergy between the components of the herbal decoction Dang Gui Bu Xue Tang (DBT, Dang Gui Decoction to Tonify the Blood) have been found by scientists from Hong Kong.

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Another Chinese study has found that acupuncture needle sensations of deqi and sharp pain are associated with different patterns of activations and deactivations in the brain.

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Taiwanese authors have compared the advantages and limitations associated with different control group designs in acupuncture RCTs.

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Investigators from South Korea have found that the effect of acupuncture on the autonomic nervous system differs between the wood and metal points of the Pericardium and San Jiao channels.

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An experimental study carried out in Korea has found that the skin at acupuncture points contains higher levels of the signaling molecule nitric oxide (NO) than surrounding areas.

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An fMRI study from China has found changes in brain activity following electro-acupuncture (EA) at acupoints Yintang N-NH-3 and Baihui DU-20, both of which are used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

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American scientists have investigated the brain circuitry involved in the antipruritic effects of acupuncture.

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Experimental studies carried out in humans have shown that acupuncture triggers local increases in interstitial adenosine concentrations.

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Acupuncture is now supported by a broad range of surveys of safety, clinical trials and basic science studies of physiological action.

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Acupuncture is a cost-effective treatment modality, according to Korean authors who performed a systematic review of economic evaluations carried out alongside randomised controlled trials.

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An Australian systematic review has found preliminary support for the use of acupuncture as a means to enhance exercise performance and post-exercise recovery.

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Chewing slices of ginseng root while having haemodialysis can prevent patients’ blood pressure from dropping dangerously, according to Taiwanese investigators.

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An extract of Dan Shen (Radix Salvia Miltiorrhizae) can reduce oxidative stress in diabetic patients with chronic heart disease (CHD).

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Up until now, the placebo effect has seemed to make no sense…if people are able to heal themselves unaided, why does the body wait for a sugar pill to prompt recovery?

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A review by an Italian author has examined the placebo effect in terms of the ‘therapeutic ritual’ created around the patient and how this plays a crucial role in the therapeutic outcome.

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A review paper from authors based in Hong Kong gives an overview of research into the mechanisms of acupuncture and proposes a new theory of the channels and the flow of qi and blood, based on the latest findings in medical imaging, cell biology and physiology.

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A review paper by Chinese authors has focused on the neurophysiological basis of the effects of Neiguan P-6 stimulation on cardiovascular mechanisms.

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Japanese investigators have used colour doppler ultrasound imaging (CDI) to non-invasively evaluate haemodynamic changes caused by acupuncture.

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Blood perfusion at the acupoint Hegu L.I.-4 increases when the contralateral Hegu L.I.-4 is stimulated by acupuncture, according to Chinese team.

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An international team, consisting of acupuncturists, doctors, patients, researchers and medical insurance company representatives has produced a consensus document aimed at those conducting comparative effectiveness research (CER) trials in acupuncture.

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Acupuncture is cost-effective for the treatment of chronic pain, according to a systematic review carried out by UK researchers.

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A UK-based study looking at acupuncture carried out in a busy GP practice by an experienced traditional acupuncturist, found that it resulted in clinically relevant improvements in patients

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Using fMRI, Chinese researchers have shown that the organisation of functional brain networks is altered after acupuncture and that these alterations exhibit point specificity.

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Researchers from South Korea have found clinical evidence for an anti-fatigue effect of indirect moxibustion and suggest that the effect could be because the technique acts like an anti

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Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline is poised to begin developing products based on traditional Chinese medicines as part of its revamped research and development strategy.

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American scientists have reported the identification of two substances in dried licorice root (Gan Cao, Radix Glycyrrhizae) that are capable of killing bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.

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Extracts from Chinese herbs are capable of reversing multi-drug resistance in cancer cells, which is currently a major obstacle to successful anti-cancer therapy.

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Chinese researchers have found that an extract of the Chinese herb Tu Jing Pi (Cortex Pseudolaricis) has potent antifungal activity and may be a potential therapeutic agent for oral candidiasis.

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A flavonoid extracted from the Japanese raisin tree, Hovenia dulcis (Chi Chu Tzu), may counter the detrimental effects of alcohol consumption and offer a potential anti-hangover supplement, according to research from the USA.

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An active component extracted from the herb Chang Shan (Dichroae Radix) may be useful in the treatment of autoimmune disorders.

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A review article from American authors focuses on clinical and laboratory studies supporting the existence of point specificity in acupuncture, but also addresses studies that do not support this concept.

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The concept of the ‘neural acupuncture unit’ (NAU) has been put forward by an international team of authors as a new way of interpreting the effects and mechanisms of acupuncture.

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A discussion paper by a team of American authors argues that the ability of acupuncture to affect heart rate variability (HRV) might explain how it is able to regulate complex physiological systems.

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A study by German and US authors has revealed a high degree of variation in the localisation of acupuncture points, and suggests that the term 'acupuncture field' may in fact be more appropriate.

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A group of UK authors has used a qualitative approach to examine in detail how participants in an RCT, conducted in the USA, conceptualised placebos.

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A systematic review has investigated the effect of patient expectancy on treatment responses to acupuncture.

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A systematic review has concluded that the non-specific effects of sham acupuncture are likely to bring tangible benefits to patients, compared with no treatment.

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An international team of authors has conducted a systematic overview of studies that have used fMRI to investigate brain responses to acupuncture, concluding that it can affect a broad network of regions involving somatosensory, affective and cognitive processing.

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Acupuncture at Taixi KID-3 can enhance activity in brain areas associated with memory in patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

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A Chinese fMRI study has found that stimulation of the acupuncture points Guanyuan REN-4 and Zhongwan REN-12 has an effect on functional brain networks associated with emotional and cognitive regulation.

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Manual stimulation of the acupoints Zusanli ST-36 and Neiguan P-6 can influence gastric myoelectrical and cardiac activities in healthy volunteers.

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Electro-acupuncture at Hegu L.I.-4 can specifically decrease the pain sensitivity of the mandibular area, according to Japanese researchers.

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A case report from Taiwan warns that direct puncture of a metastatic lymph node by an acupuncture needle has led to cutaneous spread of the tumour.

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An international collaboration, involving some of the UK’s top acupuncture researchers, has provided definitive evidence that acupuncture is effective for chronic pain.

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Evidence is emerging that the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is becoming resistant to the drug artemisinin.

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A Nature Outlook supplement focusing on traditional Asian medicine includes a number of interesting articles, including one on how Chinese herbal medicines interact synergistically with microbes in the human gut.

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Chinese herbal medicine theory holds that herbs in a prescription potentise each other and that the doses described in classical prescriptions are crucial to their effect.

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A qualitative study from the UK has analysed how self-care advice is constructed in traditional acupuncture consultations.

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A meta-analysis of studies evaluating the effect of acupuncture on in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes has concluded that the type of control procedure used can affect study outcomes.

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Acupuncture and sham acupuncture appear equally effective in preventing migraines, according to a large clinical study published by an international research team, although real acupuncture may have longer-lasting effects.

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A major national survey of practitioners of acupuncture in the UK provides an up-to-date overview of the profession and concludes that acupuncture provides a substantial contribution to the country

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An overview of systematic reviews of Chinese herbal medicines (CHM) published in the Cochrane Database has identified areas that could be improved in future studies.

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Do the effects of acupuncture depend on the needling, the consultation or the practitioner? Researchers based in the UK have attempted to answer this question by quantifying the specific and non-specific effects of acupuncture on osteoarthritic (OA) pain.

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An animal experiment has shown that acupuncture at Zusanli ST-36 can block the production of neuropeptide Y (NPY), a molecule produced by the sympathetic nervous system in response to chronic stress.

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Researchers in Austria have shown that manual acupressure at the auricular Heart acupoint can affect cardiac and autonomic nervous system function.

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Auricular acupuncture (AA) can enhance athletes' recovery after strenuous exercise, suggests the results of a Taiwanese study.

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Chinese research has confirmed that the irritability of a myofascial trigger point in the upper trapezius muscle can be suppressed by needling remote acupoints.

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Acupoint electrical stimulation (AES) can effectively reduce postoperative pain and analgesic usage, according to an RCT carried out in Taiwan.

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An RCT carried out by Swedish researchers has found that acupuncture which causes deqi and sham acupuncture are experienced by patients as equally effective at treating radiotherapy-induced nausea.

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Auricular acupuncture (AA) can enhance athletes' recovery after strenuous exercise, suggests the results of a Taiwanese study.

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Skin impedance measured at points on the Lung channel may correlate with asthma status, say Hong Kong scientists.

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Patients with low-back pain (LBP) are less likely to visit physicians for LBP after receiving acupuncture treatment, leading to reduced healthcare spending on LBP.

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Electro-acupuncture (EA) stimulation at Guangming GB-37 and Jiaoxin KID-8 induce distinct response patterns in the brain.

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A paper by Ted Kaptchuk suggests that, rather than being non-specific, placebo effects are in fact the 'specific' effects of healing rituals.

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Differences in psychosocial context between RCTs and usual practice could reduce the impact of acupuncture in RCT settings and may lead to under-reporting of benefit by patients in trials, according to a UK study.

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Blood supply to the Achilles tendon can be increased by treating the contralateral tendon with either acupuncture or a heat pack.

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Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (Acu-TENS) applied at Neiguan P-6 can facilitate an earlier return of haemodynamic parameters to pre-operative values in patients who have undergone acute heart surgery. A Chinese study randomly allocated 40 pati

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A pilot study carried out in Hong Kong has found that a formula containing the Chinese herb Gou Teng (Uncaria rhynchophylla) can help patients with Parkinson’s disease carry out their daily living activities.

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Depth of needle penetration is important for relief of exercise-induced muscular pain, according to a Japanese acupuncture study carried out on twenty-two healthy volunteers.

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A paper by Eric Manheimer questions the rationale behind use of sham acupuncture controls in trials of adjuvant acupuncture for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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Researchers in Germany report that both real and sham laser acupuncture results in similar deqi sensations.

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Triptolide, isolated from the Chinese herb Lei Gong Teng (Tripterygii wilfordii Radix) could be a source of potential new anticancer drugs.

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Two Chinese herbal formulae have been found to have antacid effects in an artificial stomach model.

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In addition to enhancing muscle strength recovery after acute ischaemic stroke (IS), electroacupuncture (EA) appears to regulate the expression of multiple serum proteins that may be beneficial in this situation.

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A Harvard team including acupuncture scholar and researcher Ted Kaptchuk has found that placebo pills work even when patients know what they are taking.

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Chinese internet users were astonished to find the ‘secret’ ingredient list for the famous haemostatic herbal powder Yunnan Baiyao openly displayed on the websites of Amazon.com and the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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A two-herb formula consisting of the herbs Huang Qi (Astragali Radix, RA) and Sheng Di Huang (Rehmanniae Radix, RR) can enhance diabetic wound healing because of its angiogenic and anti-inflammatory activities, which promote tissue regeneration.

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Acupuncture at Baihui DU-20 increases cerebral blood flow, according to a Japanese study.

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Statistics from the American Association of Poison Control Centers show that no deaths were caused by dietary supplements in the country in 2008.

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Laser stimulation of acupoints leads to activation of specific brain regions, with different patterns of neural activity for each acupuncture point.

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Patients experience enhanced touch sensations (ETS) as part of non-penetrating placebo acupuncture and these may be important in the ability of placebo needling to evoke a healing response.

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UK researchers have found acupuncture to have significant and sustained benefit for patients who frequently attend GP surgeries with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS).

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Japanese style, superficial acupuncture (SA) has measurable and specific effects on the brain, according to Korean scientists.

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Japanese researchers have found strong evidence that the stimulation of Shanzhong REN-17 can specifically increase activity in the parasympathetic nerves of the heart.

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A German team has carried out a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials with the aim of investigating the size of non-specific effects associated with acupuncture interventions.

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Verum acupuncture has a significantly greater analgesic effect than non-penetrating sham acupuncture (NPSA), according to a group of European researchers (including Konrad Streitberger who developed the sham acupuncture needle).

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The analgesic benefits of acupuncture may be partially mediated through placebo effects related to the acupuncturist's behaviour, according to US researchers.

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US authors have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating auricular acupuncture (AA) for pain management.

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Artesunate, a compound extracted from the Chinese herb Qing Hao (Artemisiae annuae Herba) should be the drug of choice for adults and children with severe malaria worldwide, according to two major new studies.

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Depth of needle penetration is important for relief of exercise-induced muscular pain, according to a Japanese acupuncture study carried out on twenty-two healthy volunteers.

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A paper by Eric Manheimer questions the rationale behind use of sham acupuncture controls in trials of adjuvant acupuncture for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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UK researchers have found acupuncture to have significant and sustained benefit for patients who frequently attend GP surgeries with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS).

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Cinnamon bark (Cinnamomi Cortex [Rou Gui]) has a potential role in the prevention of many diseases, according to a review by American authors.

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Daily supplementation with ginger root (Gan Jiang [Zingiberis Rhizoma]) has been found to reduce exercise-induced pain by 25%.

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